I just came back from Europe where I meditated quite a few times in nature. Every morning I cycled to a lake for my morning swim and on the ride I could hear the sound of nature, bird sound, leave sound, air and water sound. I could smell the soil beneath and see the lush green of the trees and grass wrapping the path I was cycling on. I fell in love with my early morning routine in this summer in Germany. One morning I stopped to record the sound of nature to be able to share this with like-minded friends (please feel free to click on the below meditations for your practice).
Being in nature makes me feeling fully connected on the inside and outside, to the space and the relative stillness – it makes me feeling one with this moment. Arriving at the lake I always felt welcomed by the ducks and the wild geese on the grass or in the water. Sometimes, we shared the lake and swam together. I could see the ducks and geese paddling through the water and I could hear them communicating with each other. I watched the duck mothers walking their little ones to the water and helping them to swim, cute and simple. No reason for me to leave or to change anything – just to be and to meditate with my eyes.
People often think that meditation has to be done on the cushion in a cross-legged posture and unmoving. I am so glad that there is always choice and there are many different ways of meditating. The invitation of this post is that you make time for meditating in nature. Meditation in nature offers you working with all senses and it helps you seeing more clearly how the here and now is unfolding.
Yes, there are distractions when meditating in nature, lots of sounds, small insects crawling up your leg or passing your toes, the sound of planes up in the air and so on. However, what an opportunity to simply let it happen as it happens. To watch, observe and be with whatever. And to practice compassion when you are struggling with the instant appraisal of a particular moment. No matter, whether pleasant, unpleasant or neutral – everything comes as a visitor offering you an opportunity for life practice.
Being in nature has a long indigenous and spiritual tradition. You may have heard of forest meditation and many others. Meditation in nature helps us to practice allowing and letting be and accepting whatever and it offers us a different view, helps us grounding and connecting and feeling peaceful.
Wherever you are, there is always a place you can find to meditate in nature, a park nearby, the beach, a forest, your garden, a place by the lake or the river or ocean … See whether you can plan your meditation. Choose a place you feel comfortable and safe enough, maybe plan 10 minutes only – it doesn’t have to be an hour and it doesn’t have to be the perfect place. Trust your intuition and you will find the right place for this.
Once you have found a good place and space, take a seat on a bench, a blanket, on the grass or whatever feels comfortable. Maybe choose a spot where not too many people are passing by. Be open to this practice without any expectations (expectations create an outcome in the brain that will constantly check whether the wished outcome is achieved. And if not, then it creates frustration or sadness) .
You don’t have to close your eyes, keep them open if that feels safer. And then begin by connecting with the body, descending your awareness into the body, noticing all the sensations simply created through posture, noticing what it feels like to deliberately pause and stop. Taking in a deep breath or two and then letting the breath naturally go in and out of your body. Noticing the experience of relative stillness. What does it feel like in mind and body? See what you can see, notice what you can hear, all the different sounds and allow them to be there, no matter whether you like it or not. Recognise the truth of things by paying attention to sight and sound without labelling what you see or hear or smell if that is possible. Just take it all in without any add-on.
The pure nature of things offers a way of knowing away from cognitive interpretations, evaluations, judgments and comparison. Feeling rather thinking that is the invitation here. Let your thoughts and narratives come and go without any engagement. And if the mind gets to restless or if you are struggling then choose one nature object of attention, maybe a tree, a leave, or a stone or simply return to your breath as an alternative.
And if you still find this too difficult then take a seat on your cushion, turn on the sound of nature meditation track and practice it from home. Next time, you may feel more comfortable to be in nature.